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Ireland remains a low performer in latest international climate rankings, despite slight improvement

7 Dec 2020




The Climate Change Performance Index has ranked Ireland in 39th position this year.


Stop Climate Chaos Coalition

For Immediate Release

Monday 7th December 2020


The latest Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) of how well 57 countries are tackling climate change has been published today [1]. Ireland has been ranked in 39th position, moving up two places from 41st position last year [2]. Ireland remains in the “low” category of the Index for the second year running, following two years in the “very low” category [3]. The CCPI is the international ranking that led then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to admit to the European Parliament in 2018 that Ireland was a “laggard” on climate change [4]. In December 2018, Ireland was ranked the worst performing country in the EU, for the second year running. In the new rankings release today, Ireland is in 19th place among the 27 EU countries.

In their note accompanying the analysis of Ireland (full note below) the authors, the New Climate Institute, the Climate Action Network and Germanwatch, note “This improvement is largely rooted in changes to government policies, and if these are translated into concrete actions then Ireland has considerable potential for improvement.”

Commenting, Sadhbh O’Neill, Stop Climate Chaos Policy Coordinator said:

"Ireland’s slight improvement is based on policy promises. Now we must see the action plan to actually start eliminating polluting emissions.

Otherwise we’ll continue to languish in the bottom half of the climate league table and fail to do our fair share under the Paris Agreement.

Today over 1,200 people from all around the country are meeting their TDs online to call for faster and fairer climate action. The first response should be for the Government to close the loopholes in the Climate Bill so it's strong enough to drive the changes we need to see.”

 The publication of the Index today coincides with Stop Climate Chaos’ TD Lobby with over 1200 local people signed up to talk to over 90 TDs about faster and fairer climate action in an all day “Zooming for Zero Pollution” event [5].

CCPI commentary on Ireland’s ranking and ratings in the 2021 report

While Ireland moves up two places in the rankings to 39th, overall the country remains in the low performance category in this year’s CCPI. Ireland remains stable in the Renewables category, showing a high performance, and in the Energy Use category, where it receives a medium rating. Ireland ranks very low in the GHG emissions category. The improvement in Ireland’s overall performance therefore is based on the rating national experts gave to Ireland’s new climate policies, leading to an 11-place jump in this category.

This improvement is largely rooted in changes to government policies, and if these are translated into concrete actions then Ireland has considerable potential for improvement. Experts acknowledge the new coalition Government’s commitment to greater climate ambition, beginning with a climate law which will strengthen the governance framework for climate action. This includes five-year emissions budgets and a commitment to cut emissions by 51% by 2030 (7% a year on average). Ireland has a renewable electricity target of 70% by 2030, though experts note that neither small-scale installations nor renewable heat generation have been accelerated as planned. Furthermore, despite new funding commitments for peat restoration, peatlands are still being mined for horticultural use and fuel. There is no set end date for the coal and peat phase-out and plant closures are taking place on a haphazard basis.

While experts see major deficiencies in the country’s emission reduction efforts in the transport and heat sectors, the biggest laggard sector for Ireland’s low rated national climate policy remains agriculture. State support for the intensification and expansion of dairy production continues, leading to high and increasing use of reactive nitrogen in fertiliser and feed resulting in rising methane and nitrous oxide emissions. Finally, while early indications suggest the new Government is returning Ireland is to a more progressive position on EU climate policy, this is not the case for its position on agriculture, explaining Ireland’s medium rating for international climate policy.

CCPI 2021 Scorecard for Ireland

first table

For comparison here is last year’s scorecard (CCPI 2020)

 second table




1. The CCPI 2021 report and supporting materials is available at

2. 80% of Ireland's CCPI ranking is based on publicly available statistics and factual information on Ireland's GHG emissions, renewable energy and energy use. 20% of the ranking is based on a survey of national policy developments in the last year. The Stop Climate Chaos Coalition was one of the contributors to this survey. For more on the methodology behind the CCPI visit

3. The table below gives more details on the history of Ireland's CCPI rankings.



Ireland Ranking

SCC release

CCPI 2021

7 Dec 2020

39th -low


CCPI 2020

10 Dec 2019

41st - low

CCPI 2019

Dec 2018

48th - very low

CCPI 2018

Dec 2017

49th - very low

4. For more on Leo Varadkar’s remarks made in the EU Parliament see

5. For more details on the Stop Climate Chaos Zooming to Zero event visit


More about the Climate Change Performance Index

The Climate Change Performance Index by Germanwatch and NewClimate Institute published together with the Climate Action Network (CAN International) is a ranking of the 57 countries and the EU, collectively responsible for about 90% of global GHG emissions. The four categories assessed are: GHG Emissions (40%), Renewable Energy (20%), Energy Use (20%) and Climate Policy (20%). The latter is based on expert assessments by NGOs and think tanks from the respective countries. Within the categories Emissions, Renewable Energy and Energy Use, the CCPI also evaluates to what extent the respective countries are taking adequate action to be on track towards the global Paris-goal of limiting global warming to well below 2°C. Therefore, the CCPI is an important tool to enhance transparency in international climate politics and enables comparison of climate protection efforts and progress made by individual countries. It has been published annually since 2005.

More about the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition

Stop Climate Chaos (SCC) is a coalition of civil society organisations campaigning to ensure Ireland plays its part in preventing runaway climate change. It was launched in 2007 and is the largest network of organisations campaigning for action on climate change in Ireland. Its membership includes development, environmental, youth and faith-based organisations. Its members are: Afri, An Taisce, BirdWatch Ireland, Christian Aid Ireland, Comhlámh, Community Work Ireland, Clare PPN, Concern Worldwide, Cultivate,, Dublin Friends of the Earth, Eco Congregation Ireland, ECO UNESCO, Feasta, Fossil Free TCD, Friends of the Earth, Friends of the Irish Environment, Goal, Good Energies Alliance Ireland, Irish Climate and Health Alliance, Irish Heart Foundation, Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, Just Forests, Latin America Solidarity Centre (LASC), Liberia Solidarity Group, Methodist Church of Ireland – Council of Social Responsibility, Mountmellick Environmental Group, National Youth Council of Ireland, Oxfam Ireland, Peoples’ Climate Ireland, Presentation Ireland, Self Help Africa, Tearfund Ireland, Trócaire, VITA, VOICE, and Young Friends of the Earth.


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